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  1. #1
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    Apr 2009
    Bay Area, CA
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    What Does A Successful Concept Art Portfolio Look Like?

    Taken from the BioWare Post

    What You Need

    To be a Concept Artist for the games industry, you need the following:

    • IMAGINATION – if you don't have this as a foundation, you will never draw anything uniquely cool or interesting. We have seen plenty of great renderers with no imagination. Those portfolios are tough because the work looks good, but there is not an original idea in the bunch.
    • Next would be the raw ability to draw. Draw, Draw, Draw, as they say. You have to draw more than the next guy to get the job.
    • Ability to communicate your idea quickly, both verbally and through your drawings. You also must be able to receive and give constructive and balanced critiques. This is in the top 4 attributes. It is so important to work with the team and not be the lone gunman.
    • Good color sense. A mastery of color and how it relates is essential.
    • Ability to create mood with lighting and atmosphere. Most environment pieces are all about the moods they evoke. Composition is also very important.
    • Ability to work in different styles. It's great to show off your style, but also show how you can mimic and adapt to other styles of rendering. This makes any concept artist more valuable.
    • Ability to deliver something that is better than what was asked for, yet still meets all the criteria, on time, and the iterations well-communicated.

    What do we look for in a portfolio?

    We look to see if the concept artist has a range of subject matter. We look for as many of the following, as well-executed as possible:
    • Characters – We like to see personality and "story" in the character. The drawing should answer many questions, but also invite the audience to ask even more, compelling them to want to learn more about the character. Have a sheet of facial expressions of the same character to show different moods and attitudes.
    • Costumes – This is a chance to show off your sense of fashion. The costume is part of the character. Tell more of the story, showing the same character in different clothing as a good exercise. The clothing should have the right balance of form and function.
    • Creatures – Must be believable, i.e., through the study of real animal/human musculature and skeletal structure, create a creature you believe can move, eat, fight, breed, and so on.
    • Environments – Natural exterior environments that features organic structure and flora. Lighting, color and mood are essential.
    • Environments – Exterior environments that feature architecture. These should be integrated into the landscapes that surround them. Must show a command of perspective, an understanding or architectural design, show the influences of various geographic and historical influences. We like to see this mixed with a bit of fantasy or sci-fi. A good split for "real" versus "imagined" architecture is about 70/30 - so a subtle approach to integrating fantasy into a concept.
    • Environments – Interiors should have everything from the above point, but from the inside.
    • Tech – We like to see how a concept artist understands technical things. How does a machine fit together? When you look at the drawing, can you imagine it working? This can be a fantastic catapult with gears and levers, or it can be a futuristic device. Both should look like they can work, have a sense of industrial design that reflects the culture and time they come from, and of course, look cool.
    • Vehicles – Believe it or not, it is hard to find people who are really good at this, so it's one other thing we look for to help balance our team of concept artists. See tech above. Good vehicles can make or break a game (especially if the game play revolves around driving).

    Keep in mind we don't expect a single person to excel at all the subject matter. Most people have their favourite thing they grew up drawing. But try to include as many of the above as possible. I remember we had someone apply who said they would like a job as a female character artist, and sure enough he was an expert at depicting the female form! However, for the size of our studio (and for the size of most game studios) this request is too specialized for us.

    Please also include personal work, sketchbook material, and figure drawing studies.

    Concept art is the most competitive space in video game art. So your submission has to look better than the competition. Select only the best pieces to feature in your portfolio. Visiting websites or forums that feature concept artists or concept art for critique and comment is a good sounding board.

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  3. The Following 87 Users Say Thank You to Amber Alexander For This Useful Post:

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  4. #2
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    Oct 2004
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    Thank you! Because I've been thinking a lot about this recently as well.

  5. #3
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    Mar 2009
    Vancouver, Canada
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  6. #4
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    Mar 2009
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    This is awesome. Thanks so much

  7. #5
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    Jan 2009
    Thanked 58 Times in 45 Posts
    awesome post! vote for sticky!

  8. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Thanked 35 Times in 26 Posts
    I love concept art ... and I love this being posted ... I would just like to point out though that this is helpful no matter what! even if your not particularly a concept artist with a desire to draw the never ending set of sequals to a popular game about pig aliens with wings that fart on humans for fun. personally I aspire to use concept art to make abstract animation or the frank rabbit from donnie darko ... I have an extreme interest in make up design and I love movies... but if they're still working on duke nukem forever when I've done everything else I will deffinately try and help with that...

    anyway thank you

  9. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Thanked 3,194 Times in 1,969 Posts
    i have already read this article from bioware but thanks again because its very useful for everyone
    see ya

  10. #8
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    Aug 2007
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    Quote Originally Posted by LosPescados View Post
    awesome post! vote for sticky!
    I agree, and it would be great if there were more professional input on portfolios in this thread.

  11. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to Ian Barker For This Useful Post:

  12. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Los Angeles
    Thanked 72 Times in 56 Posts
    Yeah, this is a great post. Came across it awhile back posted somewhere else. Gives you a better idea for what to shoot for.



  13. #10
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    Apr 2008
    Slidell, Louisiana
    Thanked 394 Times in 375 Posts
    I approve of what you have said here, Amber.
    The Louisianian Sketchbook You can Comment and Criticize if you want.
    My Newgrounds Profile Warning: Politically Incorrect thoughts, view at your own risk.
    My Facebook Site I stopped using it years ago.
    Louisianian artists thread If you're from or live in Louisiana, don't hesitate to post here.
    My Profile Nothing else needs to be said.
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  14. #11
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    Mar 2009
    Thanked 14 Times in 10 Posts
    This is good to see. So you know what they expect out of yah!

    Great Stuff ^^
    Art is Experience, Experience is Art

    MY CA Sketchbook

  15. #12
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Thanked 3 Times in 3 Posts
    thanks this is great info
    my portfolios
    special k

    school k

    my sketches.

    My classmates and comrades
    Nightblue | Alex the Red | Ronpower | zhiao | aptwillight

  16. #13
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Thanked 6 Times in 6 Posts
    This is some good information!! Thanks for sharing it with us!

  17. #14
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    Oct 2008
    I am surrounded by many lakes!
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    Great information, thank you.

  18. #15
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Thanked 173 Times in 129 Posts
    Fantastic. Its ALWAYS good to know what is actually looked for in a portfolio, so easy to lose track at times. Very very useful post

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